Flowers and Fishing Flights

Well, that’s the Easter holidays nearly over. We’ll start having fewer visitors after the weekend (as of Thursday 16th lunchtime, 3500 since the Easter holidays started) but other visitors are starting to arrive. We got our first decent views of an osprey fishing this week and there were at least a couple over the lochs on Thursday morning.

On the lookout for fish

On the lookout for fish

Ospreys are amazing to watch fishing. First, there’s the leisurely swoop over the water. Then the hover – have I spotted something? Yes! A fish! Then the feet-first plunge into the loch, the plume of spray, and the frantic pounding of the wings to get airborne- either with or without a fish.

Osprey looking for fish

Osprey looking for fish

He's spotted something and is heading in....

He’s spotted something and is heading in….

Splashdown!

Splashdown!

Blast, missed! Takeoff out of the water.

Blast, missed! Takeoff out of the water…but no fish.

They’re not the only migrants to make it back this week. We’ve had the first willow warblers singing (15th) and the first tree pipits back too (16th). It amazes me, every single year I see them, how these tiny birds make these huge journeys at all, let alone every year.

The first tree pipit of the season.

The first tree pipit of the season.

Willow warbler singing from the top of a pine tree

Willow warbler

Not so tiny, and incredibly noisy, are the resident greylag geese. They are clearly of the opinion that only mugs migrate and are happily resident year- round.

A honking of grumpy greylags on Loch kinord

A honking of grumpy greylags on Loch kinord

Although spring is springing all over the place, we’re still getting some frosty nights, and the grass was white this morning.

A frosty morning!

A frosty morning!

I wonder if the colder nights and occasional days have affected the adders this year, as their shedding and breeding time seems rather more spread out than last year. There don’t seem to be so many adders breeding this year – but they only reproduce once every 2-3 years, so there may not be so many sexually active adults this spring. This rather smart brown male has just shed his skin and looks like warm brown velvet in the sun.

Newly shed male adder

Newly shed male adder

Whereas this female is not long out of hibernation! You can see the sandy-coloured earth between her scales. Many thanks to photographer Alan Sinclair for use of this fantastic picture.

An ultra close-up of an adder. Many thanks to Alan Sinclair for the use of the his picture.

An ultra close-up of an adder.

The warmer days have encouraged some of the trees to burst into leaf. This is the first week we’ve seen new leaves coming on the birch and rowans.

Bursting birch buds

Bursting birch buds

This ash tree is also starting to put forth purple female catkins. Ash trees have a slightly unusual sex life- they can have all male flowers or all female flowers or some of each… or swap between these arrangements from year to year!

Ash catkin flowers

Ash catkin flowers

The sun has also brought lots of wild flowers into bloom. The woods beside New Kinord have plenty of celandines but by far the most obvious flowers are the white drifts of wood anemones.

Wood anemone

Wood anemone

Wood anemones at New Kinord

Wood anemones at New Kinord

Wood anemones

Wood anemones

If you look closely, you will also spot the violets coming into bloom among the anemones.

Wood anemones and violets at New Kinord

Wood anemones and violets at New Kinord

The violets are out!

The violets are out!

And, around the old ruins, the daffodils continue to defy time better than the building behind them.

Daffodils in front of ruined cottage

Daffodils in front of ruined cottage

I imagine that land managers as well as parents will be breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays are drawing to a close. Parts of the country have been experiencing a high fire risk due to the nice weather…and lots of people in the countryside pushes this risk higher still. Most, in fact nearly all, people are sensible and will obey signs asking them not to light fires but, as they say, there’s always one. And we’ve heard all the excuses over the years, I think my favourite being “but we didn’t think it meant here” approximately 10 feet from a “No Fires” sign!

High Fire risk- just don't!

High Fire Risk- please, just don’t!

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